Depression and Self-Liberation in Photography

Tabi basa and greetings family and friends,

In the recent times, often we heard, seen and read about depression. Before that, it is quite common for us to hear people talk about it and dis it as if it is a laughing matter. I am pretty sure you also have your experiences dealing with such negative emotions. I have not dealt with depression yet, and I am lying if I said I understand how it exactly feels.  

Crying Junior

Definition of Depression

From American Psychiatric Association’s website, depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affect how you feel, they way you feel and how you act. It can cause sadness and / or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It also can lead into various emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

The symptom includes:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite – weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Increased fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless
  • Increase in purposeless activitiy
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

As you can see from the lists, it is quite severe, especially the thoughts of suicide. As you can see in the movie Joker, various mishappening in his life turns him into society-hating person, that stays in the shadows and unknown, and that is his greatest weapon against Batman in the future.

Don’t confuse depression and sadness or grief because the latter are a normal emotional cycle in human, but depression is not. Even if that person is living the ideal situation may even succumb to this, as they are facing a threat and hazard unseen to us – the price to be paid for fame. The more famous you are, the more important is the your emotional strength.

Talking about this, there are time where I feel so unmotivated for no particular reason, where I just feel like lying in my bed, listening to Fur Elise all day. I believe this is quite common, except it came in a different form or activities. I would imagine a singer would want to scream their lungs out at studio when they feel frustrated or depressed. Or runner, just ran until they are tired across the field.

Could there be a solution for this?  

Disclaimer: whatever that is written here is by no means absolute cure or prevention for depression. The words written following this are only the opinion of Claudius Weson, and should be taken as a layman's point of view, not a professional in field psychology.

Photography, Sense of Purpose & Self-Liberation

For me, this one is dealt with in a way that I treat photography as my main outlet to express myself, to tell the stories that I am unable to tell in words, and once I have done that, I express it in words. I like blogging, mainly because I can write things that I don’t get to talk in my everyday conversation. Not everyone that I know wants to talk to the level that I expect them to be. So, for me, I just keep it to myself, type it out here and post it. Who knows it might help someone out there.

I also have a passion in expressing myself, which is why I loved to join activities such as public speaking, debate, battle of the band and latest is photography and blogging.  Back then, adrenaline was running wild, unchecked, and therefore I have to channel it somewhere. Being heartbroken, rejected few times, I use that frustration to create songs, such as Dayung Salau, Buran, I Don’t Care and our Taruh Dari’s (3D) main song, Headhunters of Hornbill Land. Duirng that time, I thought that we can go on as a team. However, that honeymoon period did not last and we have to separate after we finished our schooling (I probably will write about that in a next post).

High-School Rocker

That is also why I come with my own brand, Tukang Rantek. Why? It makes me joyful inside when people call me Tukang Rantek, which makes me excited to go on day to day life. Back in my village also people started to call me Tukang Rantek, like yesterday when I go to church of Pichin, Holy Trinity Church.

The sense of purpose comes in the form of competing with myself. I have quit competing with everyone else because I don’t like where it is heading. Some people don’t mind sacrificing relationship just so that they can win extra job, extra medal, extra recognition and even extra acknowledgement. If that “extra” means I go home unsatisfied with my art, but expressing in the way I become a crowd-pleaser or even social media victim, I rather go without anything but being happy in whatever art that I create. If I am comparing myself to other person’s current state, I am insulting my own potential. Why? I can achieve so much more if I become my own ally, creating the art that pleases both myself and my inner self.

I also do acknowledge that my elders are getting older, therefore I decided to create as much image when I am back at my hometown because no amount of money or regret can give me back that opportunity once I have lost it. How many times have you thought about this in your own family?

Seize the day.

I am Award-less Photographer

Again, this is another source frustration, left unchecked, it can become another source of depression. For me, being a Leica user for few years already, it is not uncommon for me to dream about winning Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA), the most prestigious award for Leica society. Only one photographer can win this award every year. What happens to the rest of the photographer if they don’t win any of it? Did they just lost their puspose in life? Of course not; different photographer has a different purpose. For me, I want to create the best image. I strive for this goal in whatever situation that I am in. In that sense, I have a purpose. I further define it to create the best image in whatever situation I am in, given the poor lighting condition, given the gear I am using. For me, using Noctilux would be too easy because I can just blow the background away thanks to its atomic bokeh and leaving the subject intact. That is why I use Summicron recently, be it the first or the latest one. I like to make it difficult for me to capture the image, so that I can learn to control my M better.

In my off day, I like to call myself family photojournalist, capturing the day-to-day actitvities of my family. Sounds trivial, but few years down the road, we will miss these times, the time when the little one is no longer little.

Whether you realise it or not, each photographer reflects their own personality and emotion in the images that they created. If you are sad, you tend to create an image of sad people, and if you are happy, you tend to create an image of happy people. Therefore, before any event, it is better for you to find a good reason to be happy. Due to the emotional load (dealing with peoples) and time constraint, not many wants to be a wedding photographer. But for those who loves all of those, they really thrive in it. That brings us to the next topic.  

How about Money?

This one is tricky because for some people, photography is the way for them to make money. If they can’t make money, they cannot provide necessities for their family. When that comes, whether they like it or not, they have to find another sources of income, trading hours for money, which is unsustainable.

Dio & Anis’s wedding reception.

From my conversation with some of the established photographers, they don’t rely solely on photography as their main source of income. They take commissions from every camera gears that they sold, they organise courses. Not surprisingly, Youtube is also part of their income, especially if you are creating a good, niche content. You also can always be part of the bigger community of  photography, where you can become the second photographer for their job, provided they want your assistance and they trust in your ability to assist them. 

Liberate Yourself From Bondage Called Expectation

Cat woman feeding cats

A self-explanatory topic, your true liberation comes when you are really, and genuinely do photography for yourself, when you are really doing it because you like it, because you love it and you don’t care about those superficial stuff that we are being fed constantly with. The amount of likes or shares won’t pay the bills. Don’t worry about your post that doesn’t even go viral. Don’t worry if you don’t have or won any award. Don’t worry if you are not making any money yet. Do what you like, create the images that make you happy, make memories and make images your life as much as possible and share it with the others. In the end of the day, all you want to achieve is that little joy when you look back at your harvest (images created) and can go to sleep soundly. For non-photographers, just focus on your art, be it writing, singing or playing in a band.

I hope this sharing is useful to you, and able to empower you. No matter how high you have reached, don’t forget your roots. Have a great week ahead!

Your Tukang Rantek,
Claudius Weson

Note: Claudius Weson is a Pichin-born tukang rantek (photographer) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.

© Claudius Weson Photography (2019). All rights reserved.

Copyright Notice

All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.